April Research Café: from silent killers to Victorian widows

ResearchCafe_marchphoto2The latest Research Café gave a glimpse into another four research themes.

 “Last Man Standing”  Dr. Kelly MacIntosh (Swansea University)

Kelly, a former JMU student, opened her session revealing the silent killer in our mist – the chair! Her session outlined how our sedentary lifestyle were the cause of a variety of illnesses and disabilities  from diabetes to cancer. Using a combination of wit and academic research  she discussed how time is a barrier to physical activity and the concept of that being outside was seen as “dangerous” so children were indoors playing computer games.  Her current research is looking at the use of “active gaming” to get people, especially children into physical activity and her team are engaging with schools to develop this theme.

“Born to run, are we eating to win” by Liz Mahon (LJMU)

Carrying on the theme of sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity Liz’s research asked the question: why do so many people run marathons? Unlike any other sport there is little or no chance of winning yet hundreds of people participate. It is the only sport that a 60 year old can compete with a 20 year old.

Liz’s theory is that we are born to run and to run for long distances; we do it because we get a good feeling from it and we evolved so we could run with the ability to deal with heat so we could  run our prey to death due to heat exhaustion. Looking at ultra- endurance events  such as the Original Mountain Marathon (2 day event with a team of two) and the Longmynd Hike (24 hour continuous hike)  Liz researched the impact of nutrition and the optimizing nutritional intake on physical and cognitive performance .

“Dead husbands and dirty secrets: introducing the Victorian widow” by Dr. Nadine Muller (LJMU)

With a complete change in theme Nadine Muller introduced the audience to the widow in British literature and culture, who is the exception to every rule due to her financial and legal status; her sexual status and her mourning clothes and customs.

A widow could be destitute as husbands had no legal obligation to provide for his widow or his children, but by law she had to provide maintenance for her children. Alternatively she could be a rich and  powerful,  sexually experienced woman in competition in the “marriage market”. She also outlined the idea that a widow was a living monument for her dead husband, being a wife and a mother being the pinnacle of a woman’s existence which is lost with death, as well as the duality of Victorian customs with Queen Victoria being criticised for being in mourning for too long.  The curtain of respectability the veiled widow weeds portrayed could be a mask which was explored in the sensation fiction serialised in the newspapers in the 1860s and 1870s – pretending respectability and the idea that some spinsters used widowhood for respect.

“Agi-Lean PM: time for change in construction projects” by S.Tugra Demis (LJMU)

PhD student Tugra Demis revealed his thesis topic of Agi-Lean: the merging of project management, LEAN and Agile.

Project management in construction organisations are exposed to a number of forces and pressures  such as cost; market forces; technology and customer expectations. Four main components; labour; materials, plant and profit and increased pressure on any of these will impact on profit. LEAN approach is that there will be cost increases and price reduction, so areas that add no value should be removed and areas that add value increased. AGILE is flexibility – individuals over process; working software over documentation; responding to change over the plan and customer over contract. Merged together “Agi-Lean PM”.

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